Sweet Corn & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Never heard of sweet corn ice cream? Well then, you’re in for a REVELATION. As my collection of American Southwest and Mexican cookbooks grew over the years, I occasionally encountered this “oddity” in one or another of the dessert chapters. Recently, I searched the web, and lo and behold, the word is out.

So, spurred on by high curiosity and the chance of discovery, I finally gave it a try using my tried-and-true custard-style ice cream formula.

The resulting ice cream is pale yellow (if you use yellow rather than white corn), rich, and creamy. The corn flavor is mild (but discernable), intriguing, and perfect for ice cream and fresh fruit combinations where you want an ice cream with character but not so much to compete with the fruit. Try pairing it with sweet cherries, blackberries, plums, or figs.

It’s also a natural with caramel sauce, apples, and other fall flavors, such as with  Spiced Apple Caramel Sauce and Gin­ger­snap Crum­ble (recipe below).

Sweet Corn & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I enjoy this intriguing, super-creamy ice cream with no embellishment at all, or perhaps only a simple toasted hazelnut shortbread cookie alongside. But it is over-the-top spectacular with Blackberry Lime Syrup with Star Anise drizzled on top and a few fresh blackberries strewn around. Or as the key component in the  Sweet Corn & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Spiced Apple Caramel Sauce & Gin­ger­snap Pepper Crum­ble recipe below.

Timing Note   Remember that it takes at least 12 hours for the freezer bowl of an ice cream maker to solidly freeze. And that the ice cream base should be refrigerated for at least 4 hours (and overnight is even better) before churning. Thus, although easy to make, this is not a last minute dessert.

Equipment Note   I use the electric Cuisinart Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet5, and Ice Cream Maker (ICE-30BC series).  It works best—freezing the ice cream base within 25-30 minutes to a soft-serve consistency–with a maximum of 3 cups of cream and milk and up to 9 egg yolks. Batches larger than this tend not to set sufficiently.

1½ cups milk
4-inch piece vanilla bean, split

1½ cups cream
1½ cups sweet corn kernels, fresh off the cob (1-2 ears corn)
½ teaspoon fine sea salt

5 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar

  1. In a large saucepan, add the milk and scrape the seeds from both halves of the vanilla bean into the milk, along with the vanilla bean itself. Slowly bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove the bean, rinse well, dry, and save for another use.
  2. To the milk, add cream, corn kernels, and salt, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 4 minutes to reduce the water content, and then remove from the heat
  3. Remove the corn with a slotted spoon and process or blend until smooth.
  4. Add the cream mixture, process or blend a bit more, and then strain the mixture through a triple mesh chinoise back into the clean pan, scraping the remaining corn bits against the strainer to force as much of the corn liquid into the saucepan as possible.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until well combined.
  6. Gradually ladle the hot milk over the egg yolk mixture, a small amount at a time, stirring slowly with a wooden spoon. (You do not want to activate the foam.) When all of the liquid is added to the egg mixture, return the entire mixture to the saucepan.
  7. Place over medium heat and stir slowly with a wooden spoon until the foam starts to subside. At 165°, the foam should be fully incorporated. At almost 175°, remove the saucepan immediately from the heat. (The egg yolks will turn granular at 185°, just as they begin to bubble, so do not take the sauce too near this temperature.)
  8. Now whisk the sauce rapidly to cool. (You may also want to immerse the pan partially in a larger pan of ice water as a precautionary measure. In any case, it is a good idea to have such a pan ready, just in case.)
  9. Strain the sauce, if you wish, to rid it of any egg white “watchamacallits”. (This really is a good idea, although many times I am in too much of a rush to bother with it. I have yet to run into one of those particularly unappetizing egg white goodies in my mouth, but I suppose I will one day if I don’t abide by the rules—as might you!)
  10. After straining, add the salt.
  11. Cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours.
  12. Using an ice cream maker, churn until set, according to the manufacturer’s directions (usually 25-30 minutes). The ice cream will be rather soft at this point.
  13. Freeze for at least an hour to firm, and then for best texture, serve within 24 hours.

Makes approximately 5 cups.

Sweet Corn & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Spiced Apple Caramel Sauce & Gin­ger­snap Pepper Crum­ble

This flavor trio is made in heaven. Just when you the ice cream might become a tad rich, your palate picks up the acid-tang of the apple cider caramel, and then the toasted crunch of the gingersnap crumble. All I could manage to utter while we were eating this was WOW. And MauiJim asked for a second round.

Sweet Corn and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Spiced Caramel Apple Sauce, warmed
Gingersnap Pepper Crumble (recipe below)

  1. Prepare Sweet Corn and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Spiced Caramel Apple Sauce, and Gingersnap Pepper Crumble.
  2. When ready to serve, for each serving, pour a little of the warm caramel sauce in the bottom of an ice cream dish, top with 2-3 scoops of ice cream, drizzle on more caramel sauce, and finish with a sprinkling of gingersnap crumble.
  3. Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8.

Gingersnap Pepper Crumble

This couldn’t be a better embellishment to ice cream, mousse, panna cotta, or any other creamy dessert, and yet it is super simple to make. Even store-bought gingersnaps won’t let you down here. The butter and toasting process completely elevates the cookies.

ten 1¾-inch gingersnap cookies (½ cup crumbs)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
few grinds of freshly grated rainbow or black pepper

  1. In a processor fitted with the steel knife, process the cookies to crumbs.
  2. In a small saute pan set over medium heat, melt the butter, and add the crumbs.
  3. Turn the crumbs constantly as they toast. In about 5 minutes, they will deepen in color and smell heavenly. Be careful not to go too far or the crumbs will burn.
  4. Immediately tip the crumbs out of the pan to a plate to cool.
  5. When completely cool, store in an airtight container at room temperature until needed, up to 3 days.

Makes ½ cup.

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Please leave a com­ment. Include your blog URL and Com­mentLuv will auto­mat­i­cally link back to your most recent blog post. Let’s talk cook­ing! …Susan

Copy­right 2011 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.

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  1. says

    Love the color! I had to see this recipe after your description of your glee about it in the Spiced Caramel Apple Sauce post, and it does sound really good! The recipe looked pretty straightforward until I got to the triple chinoise part. I don’t have one and I’ve heard they are expensive and really difficult to clean. Do you think it would work to just Vitamix the recipe to get it really smooth? Or put it through a cloth strainer bag?
    Mary (Fit and Fed) recently posted…What I Made This Week: Bread Baking with the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking BookMy Profile

  2. says

    Yum, this looks incredible! I’ve had homemade corn ice cream that a friend made, but have never done it myself…this recipe will definitely push me in the right direction, because I seriously cannot resist those toppings, wow!
    sara recently posted…Blueberry-Almond MuffinsMy Profile

  3. Penny Wolf says

    I make corn ice cream and will try your recipe too very soon. I simmer the cobs in the cream but not using the kernels. There is a lot of flavor in the cob after cutting off the corn for another use. Corn ice cream is an intriguing flavor and as a friend put it “like the best vanilla with a twist”.

    Apple juice is reducing as we speak for the caramel…

  4. Anne says

    I’ve been looking forward to this recipe ever since you spoke of it in your last post! Here in western NY, the corn season was over a few weeks ago, so I hope it won’t make a difference if I used corn I froze over the summer (which has already been blanched) in place of the uncooked. I’m looking forward to bringing all of this for dessert when we help my new stepdaughter & her husband celebrate their first Halloween in their new home!


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